Why I Can’t Pray

Dear Pastor,

Last week you challenged us as a congregation to pray about how God has gifted us specifically and individually, and to reveal how He might want to use us to grow His kingdom.

I confess that I haven’t really prayed that prayer.  Maybe I’m afraid that He doesn’t really answer those kinds of prayers, or that He won’t…or worst of all…that He already has.

Prayer used to be effortless.

For a long time I was convinced that I was someone special in God’s eyes; a woman after God’s own heart.  Prayer came easy in those days.  I spoke to Jesus about my daily worries and struggles and insecurities.  I was sure that God would not only hear, but that He would send relief quickly and consistently.  I felt that God really cared about my lost keys, or my child’s nightmares, or whatever else was on my mind.


Along with the constant chatter with the Divine came an assurance that I was under God’s special vigilance.  I believed He would never let anything bad happen to me because I was His beloved.  I felt safe and secure, and certain I had the sweet life with God.

I was sincere in my faith.  When I look back on it now, I realize that I was arrogant and judgmental, but I honestly didn’t perceive myself that way.  I was thankful, and felt humbled that God had allowed me to learn about His “truth”.

Then, prayer became impossible.

I found out I was wrong.  God DID let something bad happen to me.  In fact, God allowed the load-bearing walls of my faith be swept away.

For a long time I was angry with God for “letting me go.”

I was mad at all the people…ministers, authors, fellow members of my flock… throughout my life who helped build a unquestioning faith on narrow interpretations of certain passages taken out of context and extrapolated to relegate God to a very limited, explainable construct.

Sometimes I still miss my old, easy faith that had all the answers.

Yet I knew that my relationship with God would never be the same.

I would never again be able to just trust that if I prayed about something, everything would turn out my way.

And that was the rub…          

I now have to accept that God is the Almighty Sovereign One, not my supernatural bodyguard king.

And maybe He has better things to do than make sure little me is “having it my way.”

I know that God allowed those things to happen in my life to move me beyond the simple, easily explained deity that my former church taught about so I could come to believe in the inscrutable Jehovah.

Yet, believing in a Sovereign God makes prayer a little tricky for me

So, do I want to know how God has gifted me specifically and individually, and would I like for Him to reveal how He might want to use me to grow His kingdom?  Oh, yes!  I would very much like to know!

I would love a clear-cut description instead of letting me flounder with all this trial and error stuff that seems to make up my life’s path.

How simple it could be if only The Lord would give me a singular flash of inspiration instead of allowing me to just serve in my general vicinity willy-nilly.

How simple a straightforward little whisper from the Almighty would make my life!

The snag is that learning the answer would be like going back to that old, easy faith that had all the answers.   Back when what I thought was faith was really certainty.

And certainty and faith are opposing ideas.

Faith is the conviction of things UNSEEN.

So, maybe God doesn’t answer those kinds of questions, or won’t, or already has because knowing would be the opposite of His unfathomable will.

What if God actually wants each of us to puzzle it out?  Maybe He wants us to be challenged by our individual gifts and our unique failures.

What if success and failure aren’t reckoned by God the same way I reckon them?

What if the journey IS the point? So we will make an attempt and endeavor to try and have a crack at it and give it a go.

So, pastor, no…even though its a beautiful prayer, I can’t pray that prayer.  I can’t really pray like that anymore.  I don’t need the answers to my questions anymore.  I don’t wish to be insulated so I can be secure, and safe, and happy.  I’m not in search of sure footing.

If you send me, will I hear you?  And will I go?

If you send me, will I hear you? And will I go?

I just want to thank Him for my beautiful life and all the many blessings I have.  I am so grateful for His unfailing grace and generosity. And I want the courage to say, “Here am I, send me.” And pray that when He does, I will recognize His voice and go.


Woman, Christian, and the “F” Word

I read a recent article that asserted, quite vehemently, that Christian women do not need to use the “F” word.

A few months ago, upon visiting my mom’s church, I heard to a sermon about Luke, the writer of the Gospel and a physician.  The minister listed all of the many ways Luke, and Jesus himself, were fair to women.  All the ways women were included in the ministry of Jesus.  All the kindnesses that were shown to women.

But the minister was sure to point out that Luke was not…the “F” word.


After all, according to some, the “F” word is responsible for driving a wedge between husbands and wives, between mothers and children, and the unhinged slaughter of innocent babies.  How could a Christian ascribe to such a philosophy?

I’ll tell you why I am a Christian, a wife, a mother, AND the “F” word.

In the church I grew up in, the first argument against almost any activity was, “Think of what it could lead to.”  Drinking one glass of wine could lead to drunkenness, so you better not drink alcohol ever.  Dancing a slow dance with a boy could lead him to lust, which could lead to sex…so you better not take that 6-week ballroom dancing class.

And apparently, somehow, believing that women have equal intelligence and equal rights under the law and before God leads to broken homes and dead babies.  So, you better not give womb bearers equal rights under the law because you never know what they might use that freedom to do!  Because we all know that if men could bear children, no man would EVER use his freedom to end an unborn child’s life.  Right.

Using the “what could it lead to” argument is false logic, and is only applied when it is convenient.

I’ve never heard anyone in my church warn that using pharmaceutical drugs could lead to drug addiction, so better not go to the doctor or have surgery.  Even though, every year, more people initiate abuse of prescription drugs than any other drug.

The second argument used in my church against getting involved in an activities is “guilt by association.”  They like to use that old adage, “Evil companions corrupt good morals.” Or even that warning about “causing your brother to stumble,” (which is also handy with the slow dancing argument, above).

Unfortunately, that was also the argument used by the Pharisees when they accused Jesus of wrongdoing.  “If you knew what kind of woman she was,” they spat at Our Lord, “You wouldn’t let her touch you!”  They blasted him for “eating with sinners and tax collectors.”  They wanted to stop his miracles because he dared to heal on the Sabbath!

They claim that if we (the ones who claim the “F” word) only understood how much damage it has done in the world…how many broken homes…how many dead babies…in the name of the “F” word, then we would never associate with it.

I could say the same for Christianity.

In fact, I’m almost embarrassed to call myself a Christian when I think of how many injustices I and my children have suffered alone in the name of Christianity.  And then when I compound that by how many lives and families and futures that have been literally destroyed in the name of Christianity worldwide and throughout history, then I feel like I can make the same argument.  Why claim to be a Christian when you understand just how much human suffering has happened as a result!

I’m sorry, but your arguments are false.

The “F” word has a place in modern Christianity and with modern women.

Only a person who has never experienced racism would ever claim that because the Civil Rights Movement accomplished many of its goals to end legalized racism and segregation that racism no longer exists, and there is no need for a Christian to also be a Civil Rights Activist.

And it also follows that only a person who has never experienced sexism would ever claim that because the Feminist Movement accomplished many of its goals to afford equal rights for women that sexism no longer exists, and there is no need for a Christian to also be a Feminist.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the original suffragettes, said that “the Bible and the church have been the greatest stumbling block in the way of women’s liberation.”  And that has been my experience, too. 

It was in church that I was taught that women, by executive order of God himself (re I Cor. 14: 34), are “to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak…and if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home, for it is improper for a women to speak in church.”

It was in church that I was told that women are not allowed to preach, teach, or otherwise have authority over a man.  It was in church that I was taught that God’s equal regard for men and women (Galatians 3:28) does not mean equal roles, equal consideration, nor equal rights.

And it was when I stepped outside of church that I learned that so much of what I learned inside my church regarding God’s will for women were LIES.

Yes, Feminism is still needed.  And it is needed in our churches.

I regret and am saddened by the harm has been done in its name, but that does not mean that the movement itself is without merit or worth.

Just as those who do horrendous acts in God’s name don’t represent the true God and His will, women who use the “F” word to justify bashing men or leaving their families or even making abhorrent choices, do not represent what Feminism really is.  Unfortunately, their acts have made Feminism the “F” word to many Christians.

So yes, I am a Woman, A Christian, and A Feminist.


The Remedy for Contentment: Spiritual Imagination

As believers of Jesus, we need not to learn the skill of Spiritual Imagination.  The remedy, instead, is to unlearn the habit of accepting that the limits of our physical, tangible, pragmatic skin is all we have at our disposal.”  Lori Michelle


Have you ever played that game, “That’s good; That’s Bad?”

It goes like this.  The first player puts forth a scenario such as “I just got a puppy.” Then the other players respond, “That’s good.” Then the next player says, “My puppy ruined my carpet.” And everyone answers, “That’s bad.” And so on around and around it goes proving that a circumstance can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.

That’s how I feel about what happened back in January. 

I got the best performance review I have ever gotten at my current place of employment.  My boss is really happy with my performance this year, and I feel, after 3 years of working at my school, that I have finally found my niche and proven my particular contribution worthwhile.

It hasn’t been easy, either.  I was close to being fired or walking off the job just one year ago!  I have gone from being stressed and frustrated and overwhelmed to feeling satisfied and justified and (mostly) content.

For most, I just described a “That’s good!” moment.  Admittedly, it does feel good to be seen and appreciated.

But for the last 5 or 6 weeks, I haven’t been very motivated to write or read or continue to work toward my personal goals outside of work.  And that’s bad.

Working as teacher has always been something of a conflict for me.  I hate to admit this because my conflicting feelings have always been a source of guilt, too.

On the one hand, I like teaching and I am good at it, too.  I care deeply for my students, not just how well they do on their academics, but what kind of person they are becoming and how I am contributing to their success in the long run. I believe strongly that if I can build up their confidence in their own abilities, then they will be able to create the future they desire for themselves.   I see teaching as planting seeds that others will water and then eventually the student will reap the harvest.

I have been teaching in some capacity, whether private, public, tutoring, or home schooling for 24 years now, and God has really blessed my efforts all along the way.  I know in my soul that I am doing good work that is worthwhile, and that makes me humble and grateful.

Then, on the other hand, I am not passionate about teaching.  I do not love it…in fact it’s a lot of hard work.  It is not and has never been my life’s dream.  I never pictured my life as being one of a career educator.

I chose teaching as my profession because it seemed pragmatic at the time.  My lifelong dream has been to be a writer, really, but majoring in English or journalism just didn’t seem practical.  I had young children when I decided to finish my degree, and because I loved them so much and wanted to be with them as much as humanly possible, I decided that teaching in the same school as my kids would be the ticket.  Teaching was my default position, not my ambition.

Teaching is something I have always done for others, not for myself.  Teaching, for me, is a sacrifice of love, not an outpouring of God’s pleasure.

That’s why I feel guilty.  I feel like if I’m good at something, and it’s worthwhile and makes a contribution to the world, then I should want to do it.  It SHOULD be my passion.

Maybe that’s why when I got the good review, I felt like I no longer needed to prove that I was a worthy teacher, and that I should just be content.  I should stop the silly notion of becoming a writer.  I should stop dreaming of someday writing that book that propels me into the writing and speaking career I have always wanted.

I like how Abraham Maslow said it:

“Perhaps adjustment and stabilization, while good because it cuts your pain, is also bad because development toward a higher ideal ceases.”

But then I found this definition of contentment on Wikipedia (of all places).

“Contentment is the acknowledgement and satisfaction of reaching capacity.”

And I realize, that darn it all, teaching isn’t the course through which I will reach my capacity.  Teaching isn’t filling my full potential.

But to be honest, the idea of learning how and doing what needs to be done to become an author who can support herself on her writing is overwhelming!  I read the books. I follow the blogs.  I take classes.  I join clubs and contests and seek out mentors.  And I also try to write sometimes, too!

Along with working full time and family and church, carving out time to develop my career as a writer is difficult and time consuming and unrewarding in almost every tangible way.  In this noisy, noisy world, how will my insignificant little voice be heard?

I waver between being content and grateful for my job and for teaching AND having this great hope that if I just keep working at it, if I just keep writing, if I just keep putting my work out there…someday, somehow I will realize that dream and fill myself to capacity.

And I remember what Jesus can do with vessels of water…or with fishes and loaves…or with dead bodies.  How he doesn’t see them as they are, but as they will be.  I’m calling it Spiritual Imagination. 

What can I do, with Jesus, if I just had His imagination for myself and stopped settling for the tangible, practical, logical solution?  What if I stopped settling for what I am now, and walk forward into what I can become?

Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

As believers of Jesus, we need not to learn the skill of Spiritual Imagination.  The remedy, instead, is to unlearn the habit of accepting that the limits of our physical, tangible, pragmatic skin is all we have at our disposal.

If you’ll excuse me, I’ve some unlearning to do.

abraham maslow quote

Some Hopefully Helpful Advice For Your Weird Marriage

I really liked this post I found written by John Pavlovitz on his blog.  I hope you’ll check this out and enjoy…and take his advice.  If you want to fix your marriage, don’t look to blogs or books or DVD’s…look to the person sitting across the table from you or sleeping in your bed.

This is one piece of advice I wish I’d had while I was young and in my first marriage.  Don’t know if it would have changed the outcome, but it sure might have helped.

Some Hopefully Helpful Advice For Your Weird Marriage.


7 Fool-Proof Steps for Not Quitting New Year’s Resolutions

I look forward to New Years because the wonderfully deluded feeling of hopefulness and expectation I get this time of year.


Maybe I get oiled up on too much sleep.  Or maybe I get drunk on Baby Jesus and pine forest candle smoke and high levels of sugar.  You know, all that Peace on Earth and Joy to the World stuff can really clog your sense of reality, especially when you haven’t been to work in a couple weeks.

Every year it’s the same story.  I get all aspiration-crazed and then I go off and make some incredibly lofty, noble, BIG New Year’s Resolution.  And I really, really believe it this year…

Until about January 5…

So, of course, I did it again this year.

For the first few days of my New Year’s Resolution, I bask in the delight of how majestic it will be when I have achieved my goal.

What I will look like when I lose 50 pounds…or

What will I do with all of the money when I’m out of debt…or

How I will feel crossing the finish line of the marathon…

From January 1-4, I do all of that “visualization” stuff and make magazine collages and read a lot of blogs.  I do an Image search of Google for inspirational quotes.  I start a new Pinterest page to store those quotes.  I buy a couple of books off of Amazon.com and then sign up for a couple of online courses.  I get all set to succeed in the coming year.

Then on January 5, the last day before I have to go back to work, it’s time to actually BEGIN.  And that is where I fall apart.

I commence a major melt-down of overwhelming panic.  I think about the enormity of exactly what I have asked myself to accomplish and I…well…I bolt.  I rationalize that my vision wasn’t really attainable anyway.  I begin to make excuses, or distract myself, or become interested in something else.  And then I have another year much the same as I had the year before. I’m afraid that my life will be characterized by this quote…

Quote by Francis Chan

Quote by Francis Chan

So, this year, I am proposing a new strategy.  Let 2015 be known as the Year of Not Deserting My Dreams!!

I have come up with 7 Fool-Proof Steps for Not Quitting My New Year’s Resolutions.

This year, my cra-cra resolution is to get 5,000 subscribers to my blog.  I have 68.  This means I only have 4.932 to go.  No problem.

Pardon me while I hold a paper bag over my mouth and breathe deeply…

Suddenly, my head starts to swim.  I don’t know where to start!  There are a ton of blogs and books with their “10 Gagillion Simple Steps to Getting Blog Traffic,” but with a flood of options, which one is the most important and which one is a scam?

I should’ve chosen bungee jumping as my New Year’s Resolution!    At least with that one, the first step is crystal clear…and just about as likely to happen!  What am I thinking?

Step 1:   Cry

Yes, cry.  This should take about 30 minutes.  Do not allow yourself more than 30 minutes because it then it turns into wallowing and whining…and nobody can help you after you’ve crossed over into the line into despair.  Despair isn’t helpful to anyone.

Crying works wonders because it gets all of the irrational emotions out of the way so your head is clear to THINK!  If you are not a crier, like me, then maybe you need to go to the batting cages or take a walk or talk it out with your best friend or brainstorm in your journal.  Whatever it is, make a place for your bizarre anxieties or the horrific consequences you are imagining.  No matter what you do, though, do NOT stay at step one.  Set a timer if you have to.  Have some peppy music set up on iTunes or have your cry in the car on the way to a Comic-Con.  Those weird costumes should shake anyone out of the blues!

Step 2: Play with the Dog

This step will last in duration and energy depending on the age and breed of the dog, of course.  If you are like me and you have an 11-year-old grumpy Shih Tzu, this step should take you roughly 2 minutes.  Or alternatively, if you also have a deaf and blind 15-year-old Poodle, it will take a little longer because first you will have to get her attention.  Then you will have to go retrieve the ball yourself because the poor little thing will not be able to find it. (However, if you happen to have a 5 month old puppy, this step might involve walking around the block, scooping up poop, and taking a nap…in which case it will take your whole afternoon!)

If you don’t have a dog, then I imagine that a toddler or, possibly even a cat, will do.  (I can’t speak for the cat bit cause I’m not a cat person).  Anyway, be resourceful.

The reason to do this step is to remind yourself to be present in the moment.  THIS moment.  Stop thinking about the obstacles in the way of your dreams, and get back to the present.  Dogs and babies are magical at living in the HERE AND NOW, and we need to learn to emulate them…if only for a few minutes.  Now you are ready for Step 3

Step 3: Go Out for Sushi

You need BRAIN FOOD, and raw fish is an excellent source.  It’s best if you locate a nearby dive that isn’t too crowded, but that serves fresh fare.  Junk food is a definite no-no because it blocks your arteries and makes you lethargic.  Whereby a huge chain or a popular hang-out will just take too long.  This step should take an hour, tops.

Our favorite sushi dive

Our favorite sushi dive

Step 4: Log In

As soon as you get home from the Sushi place, Log In.  I have to Log In to my blog because that is how I engage in the community I am trying to attract and learn from.

When I was panicking about my New Year’s Resolution today, my husband asked, “Have you logged in to your blog today?”  The answer was obvious…”No, I had been too busy panicking!!”

If I want subscribers to my blog, then it follows that I must have something on the blog for subscribers to read!  It doesn’t matter what other step I take for building my blog if there is no content for subscribers to click on!

I think that idea applies to every other area, too.  If you want to accomplish any goal, FIRST, you have to engage.  You must connect with a community of like-minded individuals who want the same thing as you and/or who have the capacity to teach you new skills.  Learning from each other is a beautiful way to grow as an individual as well as grow a business or accomplish a goal. You need to Log In, however…

Step 5: Resist Distractions!!

                Logging in is the first step to fulfilling your dreams…OR a time suck and a total distraction from your goals!!

Distractions come under the facade of social media, or checking emails, or even the 60% off of all Christmas Lay-Away Items that Were Never Claimed Extravaganza of the Century Sale!!

Or the Opportunity of a Lifetime!!

When I logged on today, for example, my first step was to search eBay for vintage RV’s that I might be able to refurbish.  I even went so far as to put one on my “watch” list and get quotes for shipping it from New York State.  I’ve always wanted to refurbish a vintage RV.  NOT!

And how will spending $500 on a partially stripped RV help me reach my blogging goals???  Luckily, someone else bid $601.25 and saved me from myself!!  Or else I’d have had a crazy, fun project in the works rusty vexation sitting in my backyard for next two years!

For the Love of Pete, Lori…Learn to Say NO!!  And move on…

Step 6:Begin                                                                                                

Don’t look at the whole thing.  Don’t analyze the project in order to break it down into bite-size pieces.  Because when you do that…you are looking at the whole thing!  Then you are going to revert back to Step 1: Cry all over again and nobody has time for that!

The goal is just too big!  5,000 subscribers is a huge number!

50 pounds is a lot of weight!

26.2 miles is just over 95 Sear’s Towers!!

But there is one thing you CAN DO TODAY.  You can write your next blog post (as I am doing right now). You can turn on the treadmill and walk.  You can download an app for whatever goal you have in mind and do the first step.

Because, if you think about it…beginning is really the hardest part.  In the physical world, if you want to move an object at rest in any direction, you must first overcome inertia.  It’s the same for me.  I get emotional inertia and resist change…whether big or small.  I don’t like inconvenience.  I don’t like pain.

However, I do find that when I begin, soon the cravings go away.  Soon the runner feels his pleasure.  Soon, the blog gets a few more hits!

And at the end of the day, instead of disparaging yourself for yet another excuse, you can applaud yourself for taking one step toward your dream.

Step 7: Repeat for 364 Days

Okay, you can skip Step 1: Cry and Step 3: Sushi as needed.  You can keep them for emergency situations and weekends.

In 2015, I challenge myself to Not Quit My New Year’s Resolutions on January 5 and to do at least one thing each day that takes me closer to my goal of 5,000 Subscribers to My Blog.

andrew carnegie quote

And I invite you to join me.

I’d love to hear from you.  Please put in the comment section below…

What is your incredibly lofty, noble, BIG New Year’s Resolution?

What small step can you begin TODAY that can make that dream a reality in 2015?

Top 5 Blog Posts from 2014…And What I’ve Learned from Them…and My BIG DREAMS for 2015

These are the posts that got the most views in 2014.

Echoing My Pre-Release Bugs 

An Open Letter to My Ex-Husband on Thanksgiving 

Grappling with Christian Community 

You Will Survive Being Left 

They Gave Me a Box – From The Junia Project 

Here is what I learned from them:

First, I like my writing.  Its not perfect, but neither am I.  I write from my heart and about what is on my mind. However, 2 of my best posts were actually articles I re-blogged from another site!  I am thankful to have a blog to have an forum for expressing myself, but I need to get my writing seen by many more readers in the coming year if I plan to change the world!

Second, I feel a little unsettled that I wanted to have a Revolution in 2014, and I’m still working at my Revolution.  Its going to take longer than I had hoped.

Third, my blog was viewed 1,300 times in 2014.  I’m going to increase that by a whole heck of a lot in 2015.  My goal is to have 5,000 email subscribers.  I now have 68, so that’s only 4,932 to go!

In order to get that number of subscribers, I’m going to have to make a LOT of changes.   Stay tuned for a brand new look, for starters. I’m going to become a lot more bold and courageous in my writing. I’m going to further my reach by guest blogging on some bigger blogs and learning all I can from the bigger blogging professionals to do so.

My goals for 2015 are:

1. Get 5,000 email subscribers

2. Increase my social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  This will require me to get a Twitter account, to start!

3. Guest post on at least 3 A-list blogs, and hopefully many more.  Or guest post on 1 A-list blog 3 times.  I’m not picky.

4. Sign a book deal, which means first securing a literary agent.  I have contacted one who said that I have a story and the writing talent, all I need is a platform.  So a-platforming I will go!!

5. With the book deal, get an advance that will allow me to quit my job and fulfill my dream of becoming a writer who can live off of her writing.

Yep, a pretty BIG dream for only one year…but I’m planning on Leading a Revolution that Will Change the World…or at least Entertain Friends at Parties…Without Landing in the Loony Bin.  You’d be surprised how few choices one has from the loony bin.

The “Yes, And” Bill Cosby

By Lori Michelle

Bill Cosby’s daughter recently released a statement testifying that the character Bill Cosby created on his iconic TV show in the 90’s was the man she lived with.  Inferring that since he was a great father, he could not be a rapist.

Bill Cosby’s wife stated that he is a devoted and loving husband…leading us to conclude that good husbands cannot also be rapists.

As a society, we have bought into a very dangerous lie.  Everyone knows that abusers are vile, filthy, and beyond redemption…so they definitely cannot be anyone we know!

How can funny man, educator, husband, father Bill Cosby be a rapist?

Bill Cosby as Cliff Huxtable...the husband and father we all wanted to emulate.

Bill Cosby as Cliff Huxtable…the husband and father we all wanted to emulate.

There is a term for it.  It’s called Cognitive Dissonance.

Cognitive Dissonance is the feeling of uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time.

I personally blame Hollywood for this state of mental confusion.

You see, in the movies, the bad guy is always obvious.  He’s the guy with the scar on his face and the black hat lurking in the corner, staring menacingly at his potential victim with a plotting, evil expression.  If only the victim would look around once and notice that creeper standing in the corner…all would be well.

Bad guys are all bad…and even good deeds have an evil twist.  Good guys are all good…and even bad deeds are understandable given the circumstances!

Somehow we all think the real life bad guys and good guys are just as obvious.

Everyone knows Scar is a bad guy...its so obvious!

Everyone knows Scar is a bad guy…its so obvious!

Tina Fey explains in her book, Rules of Improvisation That Will Change Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat, the first rule of comedy is AGREE.  No matter what your partner suggests, you must say, “Yes, and…” adding to and building upon what the other person just said.

Bill Cosby knew about “Yes, and…”

Yes, he can be a great father AND a sexual predator.

Yes, he was a brilliant educator AND an accused rapist.

Yes, he was an inspiring advocate for children and families AND a supposed womanizer.

Real people are complex beings, not two-dimensional characters in sitcoms.  Real people can have both wonderful gifts and talents AND do horrific acts.  Real people can have charming, charismatic personalities AND use other people as objects for their own gratification.

In fact, the most upsetting thing about abusers, rapists, and sexual predators is that in order to carry out their horrific deeds, first they need ACCESS!  How will they gain access if they are obviously creepy and gross?  They MUST be charming, funny, generous, and kind in order to get close to people.  They MUST blend in.  They MUST be intelligent and sincere.

They seem just like everyone else you know.  You might even know them.  They might even be your friend.  They might be sleeping in your bed.

I’ve been closely associated with three men in my lifetime who were some kind of abuser.  One was a pedophile.  One was a pedophile/rapist.  One was cheater, and, in my opinion, a sex addict.

All were decent fathers.  All were husbands.  All were faithful church attenders.  Two of them were sons of ministers. All had long-time friends.  All had extended family.

One was married to me.

One of my accusers said to me once, “Lori, you had to have known!”

But I didn’t.

Yes, in hindsight there were warning signs.  Yes, maybe I could’ve asked more questions, investigated more, not believed his improbable stories.

But I was married to this man.  He was my children’s father.  He was a church leader.  He was a minister’s son.  He was intelligent, and witty, and good.

And, even though I sometimes had my suspicions, I really didn’t want to know.

I didn’t WANT to be right.  I didn’t want to hear an answer that might change my life.

I wanted to keep on believing that the man I slept in the same bed with for 20 years couldn’t be so vile.  After all, what does that say about me?

I’m disappointed that the real Bill Cosby isn’t the Cliff Huxtable we all laughed with and wanted to emulate.  But I’m not surprised.

I feel tremendous sorrow for his wife and children who will somehow have to put aside their cognitive dissonance and learn the hard truth about their husband and father.

I am glad that the women he hurt are speaking out and making him accountable, at least publicly, if not legally, for his crimes against them.

As a society, we need to lay down our Hollywood-breathed notions of what a bad guy is and learn to recognize the truth.  Even though it is hard to accept, even though it is uncomfortable to think about…abusers of all kinds walk and live among us.  We know them.  They are our friends.  They go to our churches and we talk to them at our children’s schools.  They come from good families.  They live on our streets. They sleep in our beds.

Unless and until we learn to lay down this dichotomy and recognize them among us, detect their patterns and methods of gaining access to us, they will continue to prey on us.